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Serial and Government Publications Division



Using the Newspaper Collection
Women and the News Business
arrow graphicPATHFINDER: Women's Editions of Daily Newspapers
Finding Women in Newspapers
Women as Audience






PATHFINDER: Women's Editions of Daily Newspapers
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Women's Edition (Buffalo) Courier. Alice Russell Glenny, artist. 1895. Prints and Photographs Division. LC-USZC2-1727 DLC (color film copy slide).

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In the mid-1890s, philanthropic projects of women's clubs in large and small urban areas led to the appearance of women's editions of daily newspapers. Distinctly different from the women's pages common in many papers, women's editions involved the takeover of the newspaper by women for that day's edition. In many cases, women wrote, edited, typeset, and published the day's paper, filling it with lavish illustrations and numerous advertisements. Generally, the editions were much longer than the regular issues, and often they contained multiple sections. Circulation was much higher for these special issues than that of the usual newspaper issue.

Women's editions were published on religious or civic holidays, usually for fund-raising purposes. For example, the December 21, 1895, special edition of the San Francisco Examiner sold 130,000 copies (usual Sunday circulation, generally the highest of the week, was 68,400 in 1895) and raised $10,000 for a local hospital. While thematically the editions often reflected the observed holiday, the content of these newspapers included local, national, and international news common to all newspapers. They covered women's issues and concerns to a greater extent than the regular edition. The front page of the 1895 “Charity Edition” of the Milwaukee Journal included the headline “Women Own It All,” referring to the Washington, D.C., gathering of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the National Council of Women. That same issue also illustrated the sporting page with women playing golf and riding a bicycle. The editors of the Christmas 1895 Rocky Mountain News (News MF 991) created a “Man's Page” to highlight the “facts, fancies, faults, foibles, fads and fashions” of the nineteenth-century man. In a more serious vein, the San Francisco Examiner's edition included an excerpt from the autobiography of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and the Louisville Courier-Journal printed a “Black List of States” giving the legal age “at which a little girl may consent to her ruin.” 10

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“The Black List of States.” Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky) March 27, 1895 (News MF 1158). Serial and Government Publications Division.

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Although few women involved in producing the edition considered themselves career reporters or publishers, they were quite serious and proud of their work. Mrs. John Watkins Mariner, editor of the Milwaukee Journal (News MF 1533) “Charity Edition” of February 22, 1895, had two reasons for her involvement as editor: “The first and paramount one was, of course, to raise money for the poor; the second one was to succeed. I wanted to show what women could do.”11 That the men also took the women seriously is evident in the editorials about the edition and the advertisements that celebrated it. One of these, entitled “Well Done!” comes from the Louisville Courier-Journal (News MF 1158) of March 28, 1895; the January 24, 1895, issue of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (News MF 1411) carries such an advertisement; and another is “Empress of the Dailies: Something about the Paper the Ladies Will Publish” from the December 23, 1894, San Francisco Examiner, p. 17 (News MF 984).

Researcher Ann Colbert has identified well over one hundred of these special issues from both major cities and small towns.12 Of these, the division has a representative sample, primarily on microfilm. Selected dates leading up to and following the women's editions of the Rocky Mountain News (Dec. 20-Dec. 29, 1894) and Cleveland Plain Dealer (Jan 4-Jan 30, 1895) have been digitized from the microfilm and will be available online in the near future.

The women's editions of these newspapers, opportunities for local women to express their social and political interests, also represent a brief time in the late nineteenth century when men supported, if only for a day, women's ventures into a male-dominated occupation.

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